Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Normally, I think these types of events are kind of silly in a way perfectly summed up by a couple of pieces in The Onion.  I never thought that lack of awareness was a problem when it came to breast cancer.  In a lot of ways, breast cancer is the rock star of the deadly disease world.  Baseball players wear pink on Mother’s Day for breast cancer.  Football players wear pink in October for breast cancer.  And, if the statistic that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer is true, then everyone personally knows someone who has had to deal with it.  So, as I said, I don’t think it is an issue of awareness.  We would be better off calling it Let’s Find a Cure for Breast Cancer Month or Just to Reiterate, Breast Cancer Sucks Month.

I didn’t realize how troubling this type of silliness can be until I read a piece by Leisha Davison-Yasol titled, “Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down and Put Your Bra Back On“.  I knew that the easy, pat myself on the back because I bought something pink in October type of activism didn’t do any good.  But, I didn’t realize the kind of damage it could do.

Reading Davison-Yasol’s article made me a bit self conscious since I wrote and published a book to raise money for breast cancer research.  This is the description on Amazon:

A short time ago, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I asked her if there was anything I could do, she responded by asking me to write and illustrate a poem in the style of Dr. Seuss called, “What Happened to Mommy’s Boobs”. Since I’m usually game for a challenge, and not likely to say no to a cancer patient, I gave it my best effort. This is the result. My only goal was make my friend smile. Apparently, it worked and she suggested I publish it. Again, since I’m not likely to say no to a cancer patient, here it is. I hope it makes you smile, too. And, even if it fails to make you smile, rest assured that some good will come from the experience. I will donate $1.58 to Dana Farber’s breast cancer research for each copy sold.

Everything in that description is true, but it is a little vague.  And, since the book is rather silly, I thought I’d go through my reasoning a little bit lest I be accused of pinkwashing.

First of all, while I’m not a poet, I am comfortable with the English language, so I wasn’t that worried about writing the poem.  I know it’s not really in the same class as Dr. Seuss, but some of the spirit is there.  I used Green Eggs and Ham and Fox In Sox as my models.  You can see them in the list of slang terms and in the good natured antagonism.

However, I cannot draw at all.  So, I did the stick figures, but that wasn’t really cutting it.  Then, I had the idea that the pictures should be what was in the daughter’s head during the conversation.  But, that brought me back to not being able to draw.  Then, I hit upon clip art.  And when I first showed the poem to my friend, it was just done with MS Word’s clip art.  But, when she encouraged me to publish it, I knew I had to make changes.  I didn’t want to infringe upon any copyrights.  So, I scoured the internet for public domain images and images where the artist specifically said they are free for use for any purpose.

Once I had the images and put it all together, I started looking for self-publishing options.  Amazon was by far the easiest, and I figured it also had the most potential customers, so I went for it.  I was going to ask for $.99 per copy, but Amazon has two royalty rates, 35% and 70%.  Naturally, I wanted the 70% so I could donate that much more money, but in order to get 70%, the price has to be $2.99 or higher.  So, I went for the $2.99 price point.  I figured it’s still affordable.  I’d pay $2.99 for a chuckle for a good cause.  Of course, I don’t actually get 70%, because there is a delivery charge as well.  What I wind up getting is $1.58 per book.  That’s about 53%, but it’s still better than 35%.

After figuring out the publishing, I asked my friend if she had a preferred breast cancer charity.  She said no, so, once again, I took to the internet.  Dana Farber was at the top of every list I found for cancer charities.  Not only do their doctors and facilities get great ratings, but almost all of the money raised goes directly to the cause.  Add to that the fact that I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan and I was sold.

So, I published the book and created a Facebook page.  I have sold 28 copies and raised $44.24 for Dana Farber.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but that’s $44 more than I could afford on my own.  My friend is doing well and seems to really appreciate the silly little poem I wrote for her.  But, I’d like to do more, and the best way for me to do more is to try to get more people to buy my book.  So, please go to Amazon and download a copy of What Happened to Mommy’s Boobs.  Thanks for reading.

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